Hobby Farm Journal - 4-16-15

I rested after alarm went off, but still got going “early” by some people’s standards. Then, I worked on my website & blog a little, send some e-mails and got going. Critter chores, walked dogs, etc.

After lunch in town with a family friend, I gathered up my tools, including screwdriver, screws, zip ties, wire cutters, two rakes & a scoop shovel. My mission: rake the grass paddocks & repair the SFH’s yard. Even though they hadn’t escaped since adding the chicken wire “skirt” around the bottom of the 2”x4” welded wire fencing, there were a few areas that were potential escape zones. I had simply placed extra wide boards along the sides of the coop to prevent them from going into the grass paddock. But I hadn’t screwed them in yet, so they pushed them over on several occasions. 

The Swedish Flower Hens are obviously quite smart and savvy, and try everything they can to escape from any type of confinement. One hen in particular is very persistent, and just when I think I’ve closed up all the holes where they could escape, she finds another one! Yet, when I find her, she knows she’s been “bad” and willingly goes right back in the yard. Thankfully, when they do escape, there’s still the outer fence to protect them from the neighbor dog & any other predators. Otherwise, the SFHs would have probably been “chicken dinner” by now. Granted, they had found where the wild birds had dropped seed from the feeders all winter, so they gladly helped clean that up. But, after they were done, they started digging and scratching where the grass is supposed to be growing. While they will eventually be able to go in those areas of the yard, I first want the grass to grow sufficiently to support them. So, I raked up that area to help clean up the yard from the “damage” they’re already done & the “stubble” and thatch from last year. 
These two photos are "before" and "after", and while it doesn't look much different, the third picture is of just some of the mulch that I added to the SFH's yard. Hopefully, it'll help the grass grow & prevent them from digging it up when they are officially allowed to enter the grass paddocks.

I then screwed in the boards around the base of the coop & added more chicken wire along the base to prevent them from escaping. It's certainly not going to win any awards for "Better Coops and Gardens", but once Mom gets her paintbrush wet, it'll at least look "nice", from a distance anyways!
I also raked the area where “Susan”, the Catskill Homesteader green egg layer from the Bielefelder coop. had been scratching up whenever she escaped from their yard. The other day I finally found the hole in the old fencing that I’d used to bridge the gap between the welded wire fence & the ground. Since the old “garden” fence is more than 12 years old, it’s starting to fall apart. Most of that type of fencing we took to the dump when we moved, but some of it had “a little life left in it”. What I didn’t anticipate was a smart chicken who’d test the fence & discover that the horizontal wires were loose, enabling her to walk right though the fence! But zip ties quickly fixed that, and she hasn’t escaped since. 
Here's (L to R) "Susan", "Bob" and "Goldie" (Short for Goldenrod) enjoying the thatch I'd just raked up and added to their composting yard.

A family friend came over & brought 5 bags of leaves with her, which we emptied into the SFH’s yard under the pine trees.  The chickens came running, and immediately started scratching through the pile of leaves, working with gravity to bring them downhill.

Mom then had a “brain storm” and soon afterwards, the four of us headed towards Delhi. We worked together & loaded up the back of the truck with leaves from alongside Main Street & 2nd Street. It didn’t take long before the truck was full, so we took the dogs for a walk around the block. Mom & I then headed home, unloaded the leaves into the big wheel borrow & a tarp. Two tarp-fulls went into the PA coop yard, especially under the rabbit cages where the ducks are now sleeping at night. One wheel barrow was emptied into the Bielefelder’s yard, and the rest (at least 4 wheel barrow loads) were emptied into the SFH’s yard under the pine tree. By the time we were done, it was dark enough to close everyone up for the night.